From heating our homes to filling up our cars, burning fossil fuels releases the greenhouses gases that increase global temperatures[1]. The strong evidence is that the climate is changing for the worse and the world’s population needs emergency measures to stop this happening[2].

In line with UK and devolved governments’ requirements, industries across all sectors have been looking at how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050[3]. For social housing, this involves working on properties maintained by landlords and with residents whose homes are affected by net zero targets.

As the leading data and insight company for the UK housing sector, Housemark launched a decarbonisation research project aimed at producing realistic comparable scenarios, showing the cost and benefits of decarbonising existing stock over periods of time.

41 landlords from across the UK’s social housing sector in England, Scotland and Wales – including 24 housing associations and 17 local authorities/ALMOs- took part in the research.  Between them, participating organisations are responsible for some 600,000 social homes – 1 in 8 across the UK.

The survey was devised by a steering group of trade bodies, decarbonisation experts, and data/asset specialists from Housemark member organisations. Thank you to the following organisations that were involved:

Raven Housing Trust
Alpha Housing Services
Eildon Housing Association
Clanmil Housing Association
South Lanarkshire Council
Cobalt Housing
Stonewater Group
Kirklees Council
Beyond Housing
Hanover Scotland Housing Association
Cheltenham Borough Homes
Ongo Homes
Southampton City Council
West Lancashire Borough Council
Darlington Borough Council
Colchester Borough Homes
Onward Homes
Nottingham Community Housing Association
Stroud District Council
Housing 21
Livin Housing
Thirteen Group
Chartered Institute of Housing
Community Housing Cymru
Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
Red Kite Community Housing
National Housing Federation
Runnymede Borough Council

Each participant and steering group member will receive a full, detailed analysis report highlighting the full set of results and good practice examples. In addition Housemark has published a summary report (available via the link below) with essential insights into decarbonisation comparisons, presented by Research Manager, John Wickenden, at a launch webinar on 15 June.

Key headline findings include:

  • Targets – 65% of landlords are aiming to reach net zero by 2050 – with 35% planning to meet the target sooner
  • Finance – Around three quarters of landlords’ budgets fall below the investment figures published by Savills and Inside Housing research – leaving a gap between investment needed and what is being budgeted for.
  • Energy performance – 68% of existing social homes had an EPC rating of A-C in 2021/22
  • Building fabric – 41% said they aimed to complete retrofitting building fabric by 2029
  • Power, heat, and ventilation – 94% of landlords expect air source heat pumps to become the predominant form of heating after natural gas is phased out
  • Lifestyle – innovative landlords are directly tackling questions about lifestyle changes by gathering data, modelling outcomes for individual residents and making ongoing adjustments
  • Skills – 90% of landlords have invested in training for in-house decarb experts to start addressing the decarb skills gap
  • Risk – Government and other agencies not joining together to help landlords plan and deliver decarbonised housing stock – EPC personal data issues with DLUHC are hampering grant applications for BEIS’s social housing decarbonisation works fund
  • Expectations – 74% of landlords were fairly or very confident that their organisation would achieve net zero on housing stock by 2050.

The summary report is free and available to download here.